Wednesday, March 1, 2017

All About Editing

Calling all 4th grade friends!!

I know that you are carefully choosing how to spend these last days leading up to the test.  I've recently been reminded about the importance of the editing sections.  The make up half, 50%, 1/2, 16 points out of 32 of the whole test.  Wow!

With that said, I went through the released tests (2013-2016), and categorized the skills assessed and their frequency.  Click here to access this document.  

If you need anything, don't hesitate to let us know!  You are fantastic, and your kids know what they need to know.  I can't wait for them to show off how hard you've all worked!

And in case you needed some additional encouragement...
Image result for teacher before a test meme

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Grammar Foldable By Any Other Name

by Lori

Surely, friends, you and I are alike in that we did not get in this business to repeat ourselves over and over again! The longer I use interactive notebooks, the better I get at doing it, and the more I realize that the notebook allows me to teach concepts REALLY WELL and ONLY ONE TIME! Then, there is no longer an issue of re-teaching the same concept. Instead, I am directing individual kids or small groups back to their notebooks to teach themselves or each other. So liberating...
Get this book! 

In this year's notebook with my 7th graders, I'm most satisfied with my blend of our Curly Classroom Grammar Foldable with Gretchen Bernabei's Grammar Keepers. In fact, I like it so much that I'm changing the name. The Grammar Foldable is now THE GRAMMAR KEEPER! Ta-da!

Here's what it looks like.

When I taught SIMPLE SENTENCES, I stayed true to the old Grammar Foldable style. However, I kicked it up a notch and added the notes from LESSONS 69 AND 70 in Grammar Keepers. In the new Grammar Keeper, students learn the structure of a simple sentence and they learn the Psst! Test (to test a complete thought) and the Verb Test (to determine whether or not there's a verb).
Inside of the SIMPLE SENTENCE flap.
Lesson 69 and 70 from Grammar Keepers.
Inside of the COMPOUND SENTENCE flap.
Lesson 71 and 72 from Grammar Keepers.
Moving on to COMPOUND SENTENCES, I taught the outside flaps just like the old Grammar Foldable shows, but I added the notes on the inside flaps from LESSONS 71 AND 72 in Grammar Keepers--joining sentences legally and illegally.

With those 2 flaps and those 4 Grammar Keepers lessons, my students had all of the components necessary to begin wringing out their own sentences. Magic. As a bonus, my kids also have their Sentence Wringer in two places...their Star Chart in the front of their notebook and in their Grammar Keeper. 

To finish the foldable with COMPLEX SENTENCES, I taught the parts of the sentence and used LESSON 75 on AAAWWWUBIFICATION to teach the mechanics of a complex sentence. 

Teaching is fun when you blend strategies in ways that work in your room. Teaching is really fun when those strategies allow kids to direct themselves. I built this foldable with my kids during the first weeks of school, and there is not a single week that has gone by that we have not referenced it. 

Give the GRAMMAR KEEPER a try, and let us know what you think! 

P.S. If you've never seen Gretchen and you don't know the Sentence Wringer and you don't own this book, I'm sure it seemed like I was speaking another language. Get the book. Hold it close to your heart when you plan, and promise you'll think of me. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Review It to Win It

ready, set, Suzanne

Things I know about myself:

-I like things that are easy.  (Exhibit A: Google search history -- "easy dessert recipe",
"easy Valentine idea", "easy outfit from Target")
-I like things that are obviously purposeful.  (I'm a Generation Y-er and totally identify with that.  I need to understand the "why" behind something before I'm truly on board.
-I love the dollar store.  (As evidenced by this post, this post, and this post.)

Other things I know to be true- I have a definite threshold for chaos.  Because of this, I have really latched on to Minute to Win It games.  They are specific; they are quick; they are cheap.  Therefore, Minute to Win It games are frequent in the rotation of Big Fun Friday activities.  

This love of all the fun you can have in 60 seconds led me to a skill-specific application for review...Review It to Win It!  

This set uses four quick competitions to review fundamentals in BOTH reading and writing.  (Here's the why: I picked four games and use them twice to keep you from needing a million and one supplies and to preserve instructional time from teaching the rules of 47 games.)  Each game (same set up, same supplies) comes with a lesson plan for a reading specific review and a writing specific review.  Skills targeted are: academic vocabulary, genre, evaluating text evidence, inferring, star points, sentence combining, sentence wringer, and organization in the composition.  Eight lesson plans are included along with student consumables, resources, and manipulatives.   

Get competitive juices flowing and brains thinking with -- Review It to Win It!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Talk Like a Champion

I could write all day long and never list all of the things that you do on a daily basis that I am so thankful for!  Working side-by-side to provide additional help, loaning lunch money (knowing full well you’ll never see it again), spending weekends along the sidelines of student’s basketball game, soccer game, and band competition.  Your students may not realize it now, but ask them when they’re older who believed in them, didn’t give up on them, and changed their course.  A teacher will make that line up.  You are changing lives.  You are allowing your own life to be changed by choosing this field.  

Friends, we are under attack.  A vocal minority is trying to cheapen our efforts.  They overlook our most vulnerable students and schools.  They underestimate the amount of heart that is put into the work we do and want to replace it with a dollar amount.  

But we are not powerless.  

I called my state senator for the first time recently.  I was nervous.  What would I say?  Guys, it was such an easy process.  The hardest part was finding a mailbox that wasn’t full.  

What do I say?
If you’re an educator: Tell your representative about the amazing things that go on at your school on a daily basis.  Tell them about the students you’ve bought a new jacket for or send home with extra food on the weekends and holidays.  Tell them about the student you tutor who had never passed a test...until this year.  Tell them about helping with FAFSAs and helping with paperwork for dual credit classes.  Tell them that you believe in the work of public schools.  Ask them to support legislation that is pro- public education.  Ask them to vote against legislation that promotes school choice and vouchers.  

If you’re a parent:  Tell them about the way that your family has been positively impacted by your local public school.  Tell them about the teacher that spends extra hours tutoring your kiddo to meet their academic need.  Tell them about the teachers that are also at your student’s game, concert, or competition.  Tell them about the number of cars in the parking lot when you drop your student off and the number that remain long after you pick your student up.  Tell them about the recognition and celebration of your student’s growth.  Ask them to support pro-public education legislation.  Ask them to keep funding in public education rather than for-profit schools.

If you’re both an educator and a parent: Call them twice! :)

It’s a numbers game. Your call, voicemail, and email really is tallied and your representative is updated daily.  It’s not a once and done situation- keep calling!  I admit I have never done much to make my voice heard during a legislative session.  I’ve never felt like I needed to until now.  I am looking to see how I am being represented by my state and national representatives.  I will bring this knowledge with me into the voting booth. Can we have some real talk about this? Teachers notoriously have poor voter turnout. We've got to do better. Get out and vote for people who will be best for public education. In the community where I grew up and in the community where I now work, the school system is one of the city's largest employers. There are lots of us and we need to speak up for the great things happening in our schools.

Don’t be discouraged.  There is no one in the world who has a job that’s more important than yours.  You do it gracefully, often without being appreciated.  Keep your head high and do what’s best for kids! You’re what’s best for kids!

Contact Information for Texas Teachers:
U.S. Senators

State Representatives and Senators

When you contact, be sure to use your personal phone and email address.  I make a list on a Post-it (of course I do), and call when I’m in the car.